The 80s weren’t a great time for female characters in teen cinema.
MIFF’s retrospective of the films of Penelope Spheeris intrigued me but I probably should’ve worked out that I wasn’t going to be the key demographic of this straight-to-DVD ‘punk western’ by the director of Wayne’s World (1992). After all, the latter, though very funny, generally characterises women as two dimensional stereotypes. Dudes does involve three punk music fans getting derailed on a road trip from New York to LA by gun-toting rednecks but there’s not much about it that’s punk and a lot that seems to be a young white boy’s idea of a Western.
Grant (Jon Cryer), Biscuit (Daniel Roebuck) and Milo (Flea) decide to head across country in their blue VW Beetle. Somewhere around Utah they fall foul of a bunch of thugs led by Missoula (Lee Ving) and Grant decides to track them down in revenge. Along the way he meets spray-tanned Jessie (Catherine Mary Stewart) who can ride a horse and fire a gun better than any cowboy. She is so good, she teaches Grant how to do it super quickly. She’s also the only named female character with more than a few lines.
Biscuit channels some Native American spirits, because he has a mohawk you know, and there are lots of shootouts and even a jailbreak. This is where I thought Jessie might save the day but, no, she cowers behind a truck while her student becomes the master. Sigh.
Jon Cryer is always watchable and I could get lost in his smile but it’s not enough to save this. Flea is excellent, mugging for the camera and seeming to not take it too seriously. And Daredelvis (Pete Willcox) is a welcome distraction until, thank the Lord, the credits roll. As Milo says, “Good night you knuckleheads.”
Have you seen this film? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.